Splendors of Morocco
Explore this land of dramatic contrasts, from vast deserts and snowcapped mountains to ancient ruins and colorful souks.
WHAT OUR TRAVELERS SAY
This was an amazing trip to an exotic land. The Sahara alone is worth the trip, but to see Fez and the mountains on the same trip, in the same country is amazing. Truly a sublime experience that I will always treasure.”
Our trip wasn't a "trip" rather, it was an experience! Every logistical detail was attended to with complete professionalism. The quality of our accommodation, travel, and restaurants as well as entertainment and education was unrivaled. I have told all my friends how impressed I was with this experience!”
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This tour is specially designed for a small group of 16 to 24 Smithsonian travelers and offers outstanding travel value. Prices include airfare, airline taxes, fuel surcharges, and departure fees.
Morocco is a land of dramatic contrasts—vast deserts and snowcapped mountains, ancient ruins and sacred mosques, and imposing kasbahs and spirited souks. Here, one can see the influence of Phoenicians, Romans, Berbers, Jews, Arabs, and the Portuguese and French.
- Ancient Imperial Capitals and World Heritage Sites: Journey to Fez, Marrakech, and Meknes, as well as uninhabited Ait ben-Haddou and Volubilis. Tour Casablanca with its magnificent Hassan II Mosque, and explore Rabat, an ancient imperial city and Morocco’s present-day capital.
- High Atlas Mountains: Follow the “Route of a Thousand Kasbahs,” a fabled caravan route, and experience the spectacular Todra Gorge.
- Sahara Desert: Watch the sun set on endless sand dunes from atop a camel and stay at a kasbah-style hotel at the edge of the Sahara.
- Cultural Experiences: Meet with a family in Fez and with a local imam who discusses the Muslim faith. Enjoy dinner at a family-run riad, watch artisans make pottery, and attend a concert of enchanting Arabic music.
Days 1 & 2 — Depart the U.S. for Casablanca, Morocco
After arriving in Casablanca, the commercial center of Morocco (and of all North Africa), proceed to Rabat, and check into your hotel near famed Hassan Tower. This evening, enjoy a welcome dinner at the hotel. (D)
Day 3 — Rabat
One of Morocco’s four ancient imperial cities, Rabat is the present-day capital. Today, encounter an intriguing blend of the historic and contemporary as you discover the fortified Kasbah of the Oudaias, the peaceful Andalusian Gardens, and the necropolis of Chellah, built on ancient Roman ruins. Cross the river to Sale for lunch at a local restaurant followed by a visit to the newly-opened Museum of Contemporary Art and a walk through the medina (old city). Late afternoon return to your hotel and enjoy dinner. (B,L,D)
Day 4 — Meknes, Volubilis, and Fez
Depart Rabat for Fez this morning, stopping along the way in Meknes, Morocco’s youngest imperial city (and World Heritage site). Visit the Bab el Mansour gateway and the ruins of the imperial stables before lunch in a local restaurant. Continue to the ancient Roman ruins at the site of Volubilis, known for its intricate and colorful mosaics. Upon arrival in Fez check into your
elegant hotel adjacent to the medina, another World Heritage site. (B,L,D)
Day 5 — Fez
Explore Morocco’s oldest imperial city, considered the “Athens of Africa.” Begin with a walking tour of Fez’s fascinating medina, focusing on the artisans’ quarters, the 14th-century Koranic schools, and Al Karaouine, the medieval theological university. Return to the hotel for lunch and some time at leisure, then tour the old mellah (Jewish quarter) and its 17th-century synagogue, the royal gates, and the Museum of Fez. Tonight enjoy a private dinner at an intimate family-run riad in Fez. (B,L,D)
Day 6 — Fez
Visit a Berber village, where residents live much as their ancestors did centuries ago, and share tea with a local family in their cave dwelling. Continue to whitewashed Sefrou, an old Jewish town at the foot of the Middle Atlas Mountains, then return to Fez and tour local pottery factories. After lunch, enjoy a concert of enchanting Arabic music. Have free time to relax late afternoon before dining this evening at the hotel’s restaurant. (B,D)
Day 7 — Midelt and Erfoud
Cross the fertile plains beyond Fez to the Middle Atlas mountain range. Densely forested slopes of cedar, cork, and pine give way to arid steppes on these historic routes, where Berbers once fled Arab invaders. Stop in the small town of Midelt for lunch, then cross the Ziz River, passing rows of sky-scraping palm trees and fortified villages before reaching your kasbah-style hotel in Erfoud late in the day. Dinner tonight is at the hotel. (B,L,D)
Day 8 — Erfoud, Rissani, and Merzouga
Visit the city of Rissani and explore its 18th-century ksar, a virtually imepenetrable warren of alleys, then continue to the ruins of 17th-century Ksar Abbar fortress. Conclude the day with a sunset excursion to the breathtaking sand dunes at Merzouga. In the enormous silence of the Sahara Desert, watch the sun set over the endless dunes from atop a camel. (B,L,D)
Day 9 — Tinehir, Todra Gorge, and Ouarzazate
One impressive scene unfolds after another on today’s journey to the snowcapped High Atlas. See the terraced riverside village of Tinehir and spectacular 984-foot Todra Gorges, home to rare bird and plant species. Following lunch, visit El Kelaa des Mgouna, Morocco’s “rose capital,” then set out on the fabled “Route of a Thousand Kasbahs” ancient caravan route, a region of fortresses with elaborately decorated façades. Spend the evening in the town of Ouarzazate (the “door of the desert”). (B,L,D)
Day 10 — Ait ben-Haddou and Marrakech
En route to Marrakech, tour Ait ben-Haddou, a World Heritage site. In its old section, deep red kasbahs are packed together so tightly they appear to be a single unit. Descend from the High Atlas, passing through typical fortified villages with stone houses and earthen roofs. Arriving in Marrakech in the late afternoon, enjoy some leisure time before dinner at the hotel. (B,L,D)
Day 11 — Marrakech
The imperial city of Marrakech, once the capital of southern Morocco, becomes the focus for today. Begin with the beautifully proportioned Koutoubia Mosque with its distinctive 282-foot minaret, then continue to the Andalusian-style El Bahia Palace, followed by the ruins of the 16th-century Palais El Badii. In the city’s main square, Djemaa el-Fna, a World Heritage site, snake charmers, entertainers, and vendors vie for attention. Weave your way through stall after stall of Marrakech’s souk, to view the carpets, leather, and other goods created by local artisans. Dinner tonight is on your own in this exotic city. (B,L)
Day 12 — Marrakech
Travel by horse-drawn carriage from Menara Park to Majorelle Garden, a private botanical garden with some 15 species of birds native to North Africa and known for its cobalt blue accents. Visit the newly renovated Berber Museum, with art and artifacts reflecting Berber culture in Morocco. This afternoon, enjoy an exciting meeting when you visit the home of a local imam to discuss the Muslim faith. Dinner tonight will be at a local restaurant in the city’s Old Town. (B,D)
Day 13 — Casablanca
Return to Casablanca and take a city tour in the afternoon, featuring the harbor area, city hall and tribunal, and the magnificent Hassan II Mosque. Tonight celebrate your Moroccan adventure during a farewell dinner at a festive and lively restaurant. (B,D)
Day 14 — Casablanca and the U.S.
Depart Casablanca for the U.S. on individual flights. (B)